Tampa native launches mobile boating app for marinas

A mobile app that allows boaters to make reservations for docking vessels with the ease of booking a table at a restaurant has expanded to Tampa Bay area marinas.
 
Dockwa, which launched in the New England area in May 2015, has seen rapid expansion on the eastern coast of the United States and into the Bahamas, with more than 175 participating marinas in 16 states getting on board with the application.
 
“There's an incredibly vibrant entrepreneurial spirit within Tampa, and I'm grateful to be a part of it and eager to expand Dockwa's footprint in the region," explains Dockwa co-Founder and CEO Michael Melillo, a Tampa native. 
 
Dockwa is marketed as “Open Table meets Hotel Tonight.” The award-winning mobile application and marketing platform has raised over $1.4 million in angel and private investments from such investors as David Skok of Matrix Partners and HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan. 

The app has a simple, straightforward premise aimed at connecting boaters to marinas in real time: interested parties can download Dockwa, explore the app’s maps, and hit a button to reserve a slip. Payments don’t go through until customers verify their reservations on site at the marinas; all information is kept in an integrated database.

A growing number of marinas in the Tampa Bay area have joined the Dockwa network, which includes 40 marinas across the state. Local partners include:
  • Gulfport Marina in Gulfport
  • Port Tarpon Marina in Tarpon Springs
  • Marina Jack in Sarasota
  • Longboat Key Club Moorings in Longboat Key
  • Tampa Marriott Waterside Marina in downtown Tampa
An expansion to the Gulf Coast made sense, Melillo says: “Tampa is among the top boating destinations in Florida.”

But bringing his business to Tampa Bay also struck a personal chord, Melillo says. "Expanding Dockwa to the Tampa Bay area has been an important milestone both personally and professionally for me. Tampa is also where I was born, lived for a number of years, and frequent often to see family.

“Having the opportunity for them to see Dockwa contribute to the Tampa community and economy is an especially rewarding experience,” says Melillo, who earned a BS in Finance/Economics from Elon University and spent time as a financial analyst before co-founding Dockwa in fall 2014.  

The Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatUS) launched a partnership with Dockwa in October 2015 that allows members who arrange dockage through the Dockwa app or online platform to waive booking fees.
 
By early 2016, Melillo plans to expand the company to include marina partners on the west coast of the U.S.

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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